The Ostrich Inn – Colnbrook, England - Atlas Obscura

The Ostrich Inn

Colnbrook, England

One of England’s oldest and most haunted inns may have inspired the legend of Sweeney Todd. 


The Ostrich is a quaint coaching inn in the quiet Berkshire village of Colnbrook, Slough. Many sources claim the establishment is England’s third-oldest inn, dating it back to 1106, though others say it may only be as old as the 16th century. Beyond being one of England’s oldest, it is also often claimed to be one of the most haunted.

The story goes, that in the 17th century, the inn was owned by a landlord named Jarman. With the help of his wife, Jarman installed a trapdoor beneath the bed in one of the Ostrich’s rooms, leading down to the cellar below, where a vat of boiling water awaited the unsuspecting victim.

Using this method, Jarman and his wife murdered over 60 people and turned a huge profit by stealing valuables from their victims. In the end, however, they were caught and hanged by the authorities. While some contest whether the story is based in reality or a bit of local gossip, the story is often credited with inspiring the legend of Sweeney Todd.

The inn is also said to have been a hideout of Dick Turpin, a famous outlaw, and to have accommodated King John when he traveled to the nearby Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta. With such a rogues’ gallery in its past, it is no wonder that there are still many rumors of hauntings at The Ostrich.

Today, the inn still welcomes guests, and if rumors prove true, it might still be home to the ghosts of its past.

Know Before You Go

Located close to Heathrow, there's a direct bus from Colnbrook to the airport. The Old George Inn bus stop is merely a half-minute distance from The Ostrich and you can get to Heathrow in less than 10 minutes.

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May 20, 2024

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